Joe Magnarelli Quintet – If You Could See Me Now – CellarLive CL04818 60:04****:

( Joe Magnarelli – trumpet & flugelhorn; Ralph Moore – tenor saxophone; Anthony Wonsey – piano; Dezron Douglas –  acoustic bass; George Fludas – drums)

The composer and arranger Tadd Dameron was one of the most important figures that bridged the swing and bebop periods.However like many of his contemporaries, he struggled with narcotics addiction, and in fact spent the years 1959-61 incarcerated on drug charges. He never really regained his footing upon his release, as recording opportunities were few.  He died in 1965 from cancer at age forty-eight.

Despite his personal demons, many of his compositions have become an integral part of the jazz repertoire and are covered in this tasty recording by the Joe Magnarelli Quintet entitled If You Could See Me Now on CellarLive Records.

“Lady Bird” starts the session and is one of Dameron’s most performed numbers. Using a standard sixteen bar format, the number caught on quickly, as the band shows here with its strong trumpet/tenor unison opening. Magnarelli takes the first solo showing his distinct and decisive tone. Ralph Moore is a tenor player in the Coltrane mold with a big bold sound with plenty of energy. This is a terrific opening statement.

One of Dameron’s treasures is “On A Misty Night” which is a contrafact to Harry Warren’s 1937 number September In The Rain. The version that the band delivers is led by Magnarelli’s flugelhorn through the opening theme. Moore picks it up with a carefully considered solo, before Magnarelli comes back with a svelte interjection. All in all a warm and beautifully structured interpretation of the composition.

Portrait Joe Magnarelli

Joe Magnarelli

The title track “If You Could See Me Now” was composed by Dameron with lyrics by Carl Sigman in 1946 especially for Sarah Vaughan. It was inspired by the coda to Dizzy Gillespie’s tune Groovin’ High. It has a complex melody structure and is probably Dameron’s most poignant numbers. Magnarelli uses his shimmering tone on the flugelhorn to run through the melody line. Moore’s tenor then expands the palette of the composition. Pianist Wonsey who seemed to struggle from time to time on a couple of the previous pieces, plays with sensitivity in his solo spot. The track is a delight from start to finish.

“Sando Latino” is one of Dameron’s lesser known numbers and infrequently recorded. The number has an unusual style at fifty meters in length and in ABA form. However it works well as a bossa nova, and the band uses the thematic statements with decisiveness. The front line of Magnarelli and Moore work the number with broad ranging inventiveness, as the rhythm section keeps the bossa tempo bubbling along.

The set closes with “Super Jet” which is an up tempo burner. Magnarelli comes out with some speedy and enthusiastic playing. Moore shows his propulsive  creativity and there is a brief but resonant solo from drummer Fludas, just before the band takes the tune out.

TrackList: 
Lady Bird
On A Misty Night
Bula Beige
The Tadd Walk
If You Could See Me Now
The Dream Is You
I Think I’ll Go Away
Sando Latino
Super Jet

—Pierre Giroux

Link to more information and track samples at Cellar Live.

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